Monty quashes potential Tiger-Rory matchup
NEWPORT, Wales – Just as well the European team is acting free and loose, because Euro captain Colin Montgomerie is as tense as a snare drum with just a day to go before the 38th Ryder Cup begins.
Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and caddies J.P. Fitzgerald and John McLaren turned up on the first tee Wednesday alongside Rory McIlroy wearing black, McIlroy-like wigs. It was one of the lighter moments of the week, but par for the course on the European Tour, where practical jokes are de rigueur.
Although Montgomerie appreciated the gesture, he is not happy with the way newspapers are building up the possible Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods matchup.
McIlroy announced in August that he’d love to face Woods in the Ryder Cup. The young Northern Irishman made the comment after Woods had suffered his worst-ever tournament result, finishing T-78 in the 81-player WGC Bridgestone Invitational. Golf observers have been salivating ever since on the possible matchup.
Woods further stoked the fire this week when he said he would also be interested in going head-to-head with McIlroy.
No wonder Monty went out of his way to quash talk about such a matchup. The Scotsman knows what can happen to players who pass judgment on Woods. Remember Stephen Ames’ 9-8 drubbing in the 2006 WGC Match Play Championship, after the Canadian made disparaging remarks about the World No. 1?
Montgomerie might be Europe’s ultimate control freak. This is a man, after all, who always had to have seat 1A when he flew commercial. There is nothing he hates more than to have matters out of his control. So far he’s been in charge here at Celtic Manor, but his edgy demeanor in Wednesday’s press conference was evidence enough that the McIlroy–Woods matchup was an issue he had not anticipated.
“Rory was quite upset with the comments that were made in the papers about this Tiger situation,” Montgomerie said.
Rather than looking forward to the two playing together, the Scotsman wants the opposite.
“I almost want to avoid that situation. I can’t avoid it,” he said. “There’s a one-in-four chance if Tiger plays on Friday morning and if Rory plays on Friday morning. There’s a one-in-12 chance that they are meeting up in the singles I suppose, and that’s all there is. A lot has been made of this challenge. This is about a team, not about individuals. And my team are set on gaining 14 1/2 points. It doesn’t matter who is playing who or who gets them.”
McIlroy had a chance to take his mind off Woods by listening to Seve Ballesteros give an emotional speech last night. The Euro team held a conference call with the Spanish legend, who is recovering at home in Spain from a brain tumor and couldn’t make the trip to Wales.
Ironic that Seve should talk to the Euro team, considering he loved nothing more than controversial matches against the USA in the Ryder Cup. Monty will be hoping McIlroy doesn’t get sucked into a Seve-like confrontation with Woods. Otherwise, the Scotsman might just implode.